As a longtime fan of the cult teen drama Veronica Mars and a member if its target audience (I was in high school when the original series premiered in 2004 and have been there since Day 1), I was pretty excited about its revival, even after the kickstarter revival movie back in 2014 turned out to be too fan service-y. This time the show was commissioned for a new season by Hulu, and thus not dependent on its extremely devoted fanbase for its survival. I thought this would give creator Rob Thomas and co. the chance to reboot the show creatively, take some risks and reinvent it for this new era of streaming and shortened television seasons.
Well, turns out I wasn’t wrong about that, but just because it was no longer dependent on fans didn’t mean it had to actively screw over the ones that stood by it all these years. And yet, unfortunately, that’s exactly what this experience turned out to be. Veronica is in her mid-thirties now and living in Neptune, as per the status quo at the end of the movie (and the two spinoff novels published since then). She’s also working as a P.I. with her dad Keith (the still great Enrico Colantoni) and has a beach apartment and a dog with longtime boyfriend Logan (Jason Dohring). There’s a new mystery set up when someone blows up a motel complex during Neptune’s lucrative spring break season, and several new suspects and characters are added to the mix (Patton Oswalt, J.K. Simmons, and Kirby Howell-Baptiste fit well into the noir-ish world of Neptune).
So far, so good. And happily, the memorable and quippy dialogue from the original series is intact, with the rapport between Bell and Colantoni just as sharp and fast as ever, as is true of the dynamic with Bell and Dohring. They even manage to make good use of Logan in this story, figuring out how to get him hired as a targeted Congressman’s private security officer, which makes sense with his new naval background. So if all of this runs smoothly and feels familiar, yet new and fun enough to ring true as an updated adult version of my favorite teen show, why am I so unhappy with this revival? The answer to that is what happens in the last ten minutes of the last episode, which leaves such a horrible taste in my mouth that yes, it does in fact, retrospectively ruin the relatively fun eight hours that preceded it.
I won’t spoil the nasty little turd Rob Thomas dropped in the laps of fans, but let’s just acknowledge it flips the whole premise of the show on its head and sets it up to become something entirely different if it continues (which apparently is the plan). And to that I ask, and I mean this as genuinely as possible, why not create something entirely different, with a brand new premise and a brand new character for Kristen Bell (who really is still great as Veronica), since that is clearly what you wanted to do in the first place? And what was the point of these eight episodes, if this was the goal you were heading towards? There is nothing redeemable about thanklessly and pointlessly dumping the last cruel twist on the long suffering audience who stood by this much loved series and literally brought it back from the dead with their own money. It would also be another story if this “twist” had been in any way done well, and rendered with meaning to the characters and the show, which it was not. After the initial shock of the event, the aftermath grows more bitter with every passing thought.
If the intention was to strip the show of anything that cemented the passionate love for it in the first place, then that was done successfully, but that also means that I won’t be back for any more of this, and neither will many other fans. Congratulations on your successful suicide bomb, Rob Thomas. It blew up all the good along with the bad.